Melanie Walker and Monica McLean, University of Nottingham, UK [email protected] What will help to bring about a better society or a better world? (Tony Judt) Research project: developing an original public-good professional education Index, 2008-2009 (ESRC/DfID funded); set in South Africa and widely applicable (potentially) Public good: oriented to professional contributions to poverty reduction (What can universities do through professional education to foster such a professional ethic?) Conceptual framework for a public good professional: capability expansion Plus ‘other regarding’ agency goals Index of four interlocking tables as an evaluation heuristic, for testing and public scrutiny Mahbub Ul Haq - key purpose of (human) development is to enlarge people’s choices to lead good lives Public-good professionalism is conceptualised both as expanding the capabilities of people living in poverty (which fits with the human development idea of the poor as active participants in development processes), and also expanding the professional capabilities of people who might make the choice to contribute professionally to equitable social improvements. POLITICAL The relationship between comprehensive capabilities and professional capabilities and functionings (eg. Bill of Rights; Government policy) SOCIAL (eg. Welfare grants, service delivery, education, inclusive access to HE) ECONOMIC Opportunities and inclusion Comprehensive capabilities for each person to have wellbeing and quality of life Expand comprehensive capabilities through professional capabilities and functionings Social responsibility of universities and professional education Professional capabilities formation and values Individual biography conversions and autonomous agency Public good professionals improve lives of disadvantaged and reduce poverty by expanding people’s capabilities The approach is used to evaluate well-being and to guide policy and action to remove ‘unfreedoms’ or obstacles which stand in the way of people being able to achieve quality of life and to choose a life they have reason to value, to be and to do in ways they value (Sen, 1999). Robeyns (2003, p.7) describes capability-based well-being as people having the ‘effective opportunities to undertake actions and activities that they want to engage in and be whom they want to be’. Capability deprivation thus reduces well-being. Agency in turn involves ‘what a person is free to do and achieve in pursuit of whatever goals or values he or she regards as important’ (Sen 1995, p.203). The approach can evaluate both the opportunity or freedoms each person has for well-being and agency, as well as actual well-being and agency achievements. Capability = obligations to others (Sen, Nussbaum) De Swaan et al and research on elites and social change ‘Social consciousness’: awareness of the interdependence among social groups in society – and, most relevantly, of the external effects of poverty upon the elites, which they may perceive either as threatening [eg crime] or as promising opportunities [eg labour power, clients for their services]; they realize that as members of the elite they bear some responsibility for the conditions of the poor; they believe that feasible and efficacious means of improving the lot of the poor exist or might be created. We translate this into a three-dimensional model of otherregarding, socially conscious agency, having these elements: aware agents; responsible agents; activist agents. Three basic attitudes to poverty among elites in a country: complete indifference concern based on perceived threat to their own well-being and the opportunities the poor present [as consumers, voters and so on], but remain inactive and resigned to inequalities are concerned and confident about their ability to act to bring about change Development Discourses: Higher Education and Poverty Reduction in South Africa’ project from July 2008-December 2009. Aims were to explore (i) how professional education in South African universities might contribute to poverty reduction and social transformation; and (ii) the equity trajectory of universities and their role in addressing the challenges of poverty and human development needs of South Africa. 3 South African universities; 5 professional departments Informed by theory, research, qualitative data and dialogue Generating the Index Four meta-functionings (capability achievements) Dimensions to be evaluated 1. prof caps 2. educ. arrangements 3. univ.conditions 4. social constraints Research process 1. theories 2. empirical cases (5) 3. participatory dialogue • • • • Recognise the full dignity of every human being Act for social transformation and to reduce injustice Make sound, knowledgeable, thoughtful, imaginative professional judgements Work/act with others to expand the comprehensive capabilities (‘fully human lives’) of people living in poverty. Interlocking Dimensions Detail (theory, research, dialogue) Table 1 Professional capabilities informed vision; affiliation (solidarity); resilience; social and collective struggle; emotions; integrity; assurance & confidence; knowledge, imagination, and practical skills. Table 2 Educational arrangements curriculum, pedagogy, encouraging professional ways of being, supportive Faculty/departmental culture Table 3 University conditions institutional culture and environment; advancing criticism, deliberation and responsibility; social engagement;, building just futures Table 4 Social constraints Material, historical, cultural The question: How do the elements of the Index play out in professional education sites? Here we have selected Law to illustrate how the Index can assist an evaluation of public-good professionalism, including the formation of other-regarding agency in a profession with social power and potential influence for transformation. Interviews with students, lecturers, university managers, alumni, NGOs and professional bodies. Reasonably encouraging narrative across professional capabilities, formation of professionals at Faculty and module (Legal Process) level, and University ethos. Some educational constraints (crowded 4 year curriculum, large classes, under-prepared students, specific pressures on poor students; lack of staff diversity) But significant social constraints (repeated by all groups): nature of the law lack of political will for change materialism persistent racial prejudice Public good professionalism precarious Transformation somewhat haphazard as discourse and practices – but also evidence of aware, responsible activist agents (and potential for solidarity, rationality and reflective professionals). Pessimism from nature of HE changes globally (‘logics’ of the market, managerialism, human capital) –professions prioritize self-interest over public good Judge Mohamed Navsa, former chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission - South Africa's legal practitioners ‘are losing their social consciences’. Index captures the three key elements of Sen’s idea of justice (2009): (i) a focus on accomplishments and capabilities in actual lives; (ii) a focus on obligations to vulnerable others; and, (iii) a focus on public reasoning in arriving at decisions regarding justice and social change. Not ‘perfect’ justice or ‘perfect’ public-good professional thinking comparatively, that is, evaluating, local conditions, the proximity of socio-economic arrangements from feasible conditions of justice. In parallel, we can usefully think of publicgood professional education comparatively. For example, a practical step would be for the Faculty to expand the Legal Process module so that it could be taken by all students, which would provide more exposure to the realities of working with disadvantaged communities. This would be a first step towards making students aware of the choices in working for transformation. Index has the potential to be ‘critical, transgressive, transformative’ (Fournier, 2002, p. 192), its collaborative production can be seen as a ‘movement of hope’(Ibid.). It is not a blueprint for a perfect public-good professional education, but a space for imagining alternatives and for ‘public reasoning’ about public good professionals.